Minister of Forestry, Durable Development, and the Environment,
Ladies and gentlemen representatives of the US Forest Service,
Representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),
Representatives of international and national conservation NGOs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor to speak to you in the name of the American government, at the signing ceremony of the agreement between the Ministry of Forestry, Durable Development, and Environment and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Thanks to this agreement, the USAID/USFS program in the Republic of the Congo supports the reinforcement of the capabilities of the National Center for Construction Inventory of Forestry Resources (CNIAF), and the Congolese Agency for Wildlife and Protected Areas (ACFAP), in addition to other interventions, for a global cost of $2.2 million, or more than 1.2 billion CFA. There is a Native American saying that goes “we do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.”
It is in this sense that the American government views the importance of environmental preservation. Together, it is up to all of us to guarantee world-wide well-being, and to leave a healthy environment for our children. If we want future generations to breathe pure, clean air, and to find animals on earth like the elephants on the coat of arms of the Republic of the Congo, we must pay particular attention to the fauna and flora of the Congo Basin, second lungs of the planet.
We speak of an area of 228 million hectares, covering the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo Basin contains 26% of the earth’s tropical forests, and harbors rich biodiversity. There one can find over 10, 000 species of plants, 1, 000 species of birds, and 400 species of mammals.
These statistics reinforce the importance of this accord and mark it’s worldwide dimension. The signatures that will be placed on this agreement are worth their weight in gold. They will open the doors to multiple actions in legislation and the socio-economic well-being of local communities. Indeed, the preservation of the Congo Basin is essential for climate stability, since the majority of weather events on the African continent are formed in this region. My country, the United States of America, expressed through COP21 its willingness to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to contribute to world efforts in the fight against climate change.
Furthermore, Congolese scientists recently worked alongside American experts to learn cartography technologies at the University of Maryland. These collaboration efforts produced the most recent analyses on the evolution of forests in the Republic of the Congo. These analyses and this cartography henceforth permit Central African countries to have credible data to analyze and evaluate changes in the forest. Our efforts regarding the Congo Basin put at the center the socio-economic well-being of local communities in the Congo Basin.
Therefore the Regional Program for the Environment of Central Africa (CARPE) develops activities to fight deforestation that negatively impacts the lives of people and threatens flora and fauna. In effect, the destruction of forests in the Basin provokes greenhouse gas emissions, with negative consequences for climate change. Scientists estimate that two sections of forests in the Congo Basin will be lost by 2040, unless pertinent protection efforts are immediately put into place. The Congo Basin, because of its rich wildlife, faces crime linked with wild species.
This presents not only a real danger for the environment, but also a source of armed conflict. To address this issue, the American government has consolidated its environmental interventions around CARPE since 1995. During the first two phases of the CARPE program, the American government injected more than 53 million American dollars, or more than thirty billion CFA (30,981,348,750) in the sub-region. This total can increase in the current phase that will last until 2020, with the new objective of fighting against climate change.
I hope that this partnership creates a solid base to respond to essential questions of durable development in the Republic of the Congo and its contributions to safeguard the future of our shared planet. After all, we only have one planet.